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Review: Modern fable ‘Love Is All You Need?’ overreaches in attempt to inverse hate

Tyler Blackburn and Briana Evigan in the movie "Love Is All You Need?"
Tyler Blackburn and Briana Evigan in the movie “Love Is All You Need?”
(Genius Pictures)

First things first: Kudos to director K. Rocco Shields for her ambitious and heartfelt attempt to tackle the scourge of homophobia via her vigilantly crafted drama “Love Is All You Need?”

That said, this capably acted and shot film, written by Shields and David Tillman based on Shields’ 2011 short, in which homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuals are deemed pariahs, tries too hard to hammer home its points. So much so that its messaging becomes diffused, if not lost, amid the overlong picture’s mounting frenzy.

A leaner, more focused telling would have better served this inverted fable in whose world “gay” and “queer” means heterosexual (or the derisive “ro”), Shakespeare wrote “Romeo and Juliet” about two men and campuses boast “Hetero” Alliances.

Two dovetailing narratives set in small-town Indiana town drive the action. One involves Jude (Briana Evigan), a female college student and star football player forced to hide her love for budding male sportswriter Ryan (Tyler Blackburn). The second finds 11-year-old Emily (Kyla Kenedy) viciously bullied for befriending — and perhaps having special feelings for — a kindly, if nerdish, boy, Ian (Jacob Rodier).

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Fueled by a villainous local reverend (Elisabeth Röhm) doing “God’s work,” the blind rage and violence these “ros” encounter is certainly powerful. But in the end, siding with the heterosexual victims and against the hate-filled homosexuals, even if that’s the point here, inadvertently feels weirdly antithetical.

Better to revisit such related films as “Boys Don’t Cry” or TV’s “The Matthew Shepard Story” for a more persuasive look at a topic that demands clarity more than gimmickry.

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‘Love Is All You Need?’

Not rated

Running time: 2 hour, 2 minutes

Playing: Downtown Independent, Los Angeles

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